Saturday, September 6, 2008

Kariega - 3rd Sep

First a quick update of Enkosini. The house and chalets were saved from the fire which they managed to put out. The next day they had another fire in a different part of the reserve which they also managed to put out so everything is back to normal.

In the mean time I have flown to Port Elizabeth and have started working on Kariega an up and running game reserve near Grahamstown.

What a difference to Enkosini! Here they have proper buildings for the volunteers and inside plumbing! I have my own room (being the only male volunteer) and have duvet covers (heat!). The kitchen is the same size as the whole ranger house at Enkosini. Its luxury. For my very first morning I was treated to the sight of impala and wildebeest grazing just outside the fence that surrounds the volunteer complex.

After breakfast on the first morning I was presented with my biggest challenge so far on this trip. More terrifying than a bushfire and more energy zapping than a 10 mile hike - teaching kids at the local school!

As part of Kariega's community project, every Wednesday volunteers spend the morning trying to teach the local children English using school material donated by previous volunteers. The class we were given contained about 25 children of various ages which were split amongst 3 volunteers. I got the youngest kids - 5 in total who were all about 5 or 6 years of age. The plan was simply to let them colour in pages torn from a colouring book. I would hand them a colouring pencil each and then when they wanted a different colour they would hand back the one they had and ask for the next pencil (hopefully asking for the colour in english).

It went fine for the first 2 seconds - the first kid asked for a red pencil. Then all the other kids asked for red pencils! Luckily I had more than one set of pencils. After 5 seconds and seemingly every 5 seconds after that the kids all wanted to change their pencils so I was constantly taking pencils in and handing out other pencils. One kid decided to hoard every pencil he got and refused to give back any. The concept of trying to use English to ask very quickly went out the window and they just pointed or simply took the pencil they wanted from me. They then started taking the pencils from each other which resulted in fights over the pencils or the colouring paper. After 30 minutes they started wandering off to join the older kids groups. By this stage the other groups were also wandering around the room and the whole place was turning into complete chaos. Jacques, our volunteer coordinator arrived into the room to see how things were going. I asked him what time it was to which he replied 10:30 - only another hour to go!

At about 11 we were allowed to take all the kids out to play until their break at 11:30. Initially we couldn't think of anything to play until I suggested 1,2,3 red light. That worked for about 5 minutes then we moved on to blindman's buff - me being the blindman which meant that all the kids got to kick and thump me while a ran around with my fleece over my head.

At 11:30 we could relax as it was now break time. It was at his point that we seen why a lot of these kids come to school - free food. All the kids lined up to be given a handout of rice and beans. I was told later that some of children walk over 5 miles a day to get to the school. It put everything into perspective.

We will be back next week, hopefully better prepared. In the mean time I am determined to get some balls or something so they can play properly outside.

After lunch we were taken on a drive around part of the game reserve by Jacques then we went to near by Kenton on Sea for Pizza and beer. Great pizza - got a take away one for the next day (diet is not going well)

As an inauguration ceremony for new volunteers I also had to take shots of springbok and some local 80proof rum - which tore the back of my throat off. Ingrid, another volunteer joined in the shot taking (she claims to be Scottish as she was born in Edinburgh but has an English accent - she certainly drinks like a Scot!)

Finally it was back to the volunteer house, wherein Ingrid produced some chocolate liqueurs for the end of the night. Good way to end my first full day at Kariega.

List update for 5th Sep

Beers I have drank:

Urbock Bock beer 7%
According to the off license ower it is only brewed once a year. A nice beer - basically rocket fuel.

Some beer called tasve or something which was ok but nothing special. I just tried hoking for it in the bin to see what it was called but its been covered over by food. Perhaps too many urbock drank at his point!

Millbrook lager: On draft at the restaurant in Kariega, It seemed to have some sort of sediment in it but was not a wheat beer - not good!

Animals I have seen: never got to update this on last post so will do it now. Any ones with J beside them were really identified by Jacques the volunteer coordinator at Kariega - So I've been cheating!

One of the downsides to living in reasonably comfortable accommodation is that some animals also like to do the same so the following ones I have spotted inside the volunteer centre:

Mouse: 3rd Sep Kariega volunteer centre - specifically my room at 2am in the morning. I must admit I nearly jumped up on a chair when I seen it but after a while you get used to it.

Rain Spider: 3rd sep Kariega volunteer centre - again my room - its a bloody great big spider which was sitting on my wall at two in the morning - oh and has now just reappeard from behind a picture.

Cockroach: 4th Sep Kariega volunteer centre - kitchen everytime you go there at night!

Other Animals

Black backed Jackel 4th Sep Kariega

Eland 5th Sep Kariega (p)

Gemsbok 4th Sep Kariega

Red Hartebeest 4th Sep Kariega.

Blesbok 4th Sep Kariega.

LEOPARD! (tortoise) 4th Sep Kariega - slightly easier to spot then leopard!

Ostrich 4th Sep Kariega.

Black headed Heron: 5th Sep Kariega (J)

African Goshawk: 4th Sep Kariega (J)

Yellow-billed Kite 4th Sep Kariega (J)

Jackell Buzzard 5th Sep Kariega (J)

Crested Eagle 3rd Sep Kariega (J) (p but very bad shot)

Crowned Lapwing 5th Sep Kariega (J) (p)

Hoopoe 3rd Sep Kariega (ME!)

Spotted eagle owl 3rd Sep (J - but I could have got it - eventually!) (p)

Crowned Hornbill 5th Sep (Ingrid seen them first!)

Stonechat 5th Sep (Same as at home!)

Red winged Starling 5th Sep Kariega (Me)

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